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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what his Department's policy is on the introduction of congestion charges in the Greater London area; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: The Greater London Authority Act 1999 gives power to the Mayor and the boroughs to introduce road user charging schemes in Greater London. The Government believe that road user charging can be a useful part of a transport strategy in appropriate circumstances. It is for the Mayor, and the boroughs subject to the Mayor's consent, to judge whether schemes are justified in London.
Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what information he has collated on the effect of commercial sand extraction on the decline of the shrimp harvest in the Ribble Estuary. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State has not collated any information on the effect of commercial sand extraction on the decline of the shrimp harvest in the Ribble Estuary. He is, however, aware that commercial sand extraction is taking place at Sefton Beach within the Ribble Estuary. He has been asked by the Local Minerals Planning Authority, Sefton Borough Council, to call in two planning applications for continued sand extraction in this location for, respectively, 10-year and 12-month periods. He is currently considering this request and will announce his decision shortly.
Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to re-examine local government boundary configurations in major conurbations outside London, before the introduction of elected mayors. 
Ms Armstrong: There are no plans at present to examine the external boundaries of local authorities. As part of the programme of periodic electoral reviews, the Local Government Commission for England is examining the electoral arrangements, including ward boundaries, within all local authorities. Any changes in the electoral arrangements in Metropolitan authorities would be likely to be implemented in 2004.
15 Jan 2001 : Column: 18W
companies have been penalised since 1 May 1997; how much they have been fined; when they were fined; and what the reason was for the penalty in each case. 
Mr. Hill: Details of penalties levied upon train operating companies under the terms of their franchise agreements are contained in the shadow Strategic Rail Authority's publication "On Track" and in the Authority's Annual Report. Copies of both documents are in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from British Airways concerning the airworthiness of Concorde; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: An Anglo-French Working Group of senior government officials and civil aviation authority representatives was established on 17 August to co-ordinate work and review progress on restoring the airworthiness of Concorde. The Working Group has met representatives from Concorde's manufacturers and operators, including British Airways, several times. Both carriers also have regular contact with their national aviation safety regulatory authorities.
The Working Group met for the fourth time on 15 December 2000 during which it received the latest information from the technical accident investigators. At that meeting, British Airways confirmed its commitment to take the necessary steps that would enable Concorde's certificate of airworthiness to be restored as soon as possible. The next (fifth) meeting of the Working Group will take place in Paris on 9 February.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his letter of 14 December 2000 to the hon. Member for Linlithgow, if he will make a statement on his meeting with Ralph King about the Flixborough disaster. 
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he proposes to take following the judgment of the House of Lords in the case of Goodes v. East Sussex; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Hill: The judgment was that there was no duty on local highway authorities under the Highways Act 1980 to remove ice from highways. Nevertheless, we expect authorities to continue to salt their roads in icy conditions in accordance with their Code of Good Practice on Highway Maintenance, which has been in place since 1989. All our soundings with local highway authorities have confirmed that it is their intention to maintain existing practices.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he plans to allow public consultation before he announces new special areas of conservation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: Full public consultation and discussion with affected interests on all sites has been and continues to be an important principle for the Government. English Nature has, as part of the consultation process initiated in August 2000, given all landowners and occupiers, local authorities, statutory agencies and relevant bodies with interest in new special areas of conservation the opportunity to comment. At national level, my officials consulted national interest groups and representative bodies.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the guidelines by which he will decide on the location of new special areas of conservation. 
Mr. Mullin: The Habitats Directive requires that member states nominate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) that are the best areas to represent the range and variety of the habitats and species identified in Annexes I and II of the Directive. The criteria for the selection of Special Areas of Conservation are set out in Annexe III of the Habitats Directive.
|Site name||Administrative area|
|Alde, Ore and Butley Estuaries||Suffolk|
|Arnecliff and Park Hole Woods||North Yorkshire|
|Ashdown Forest||East Sussex|
|Beast Cliff--Whitby (Robin Hood's Bay)||North Yorkshire|
|Bee's Nest and Green Clay Pits||Derbyshire|
|Bolton Fell and Walton Mosses||Cumbria|
|Breney Common and Goss and Tregoss Moors||Cornwall|
|Calf Hill and Cragg Woods||Lancashire|
|Cerne and Sydling Downs||Dorset|
|Cumbrian Marsh Fritillary Site||Cumbria|
|Duncton to Bignor Escarpment||West Sussex|
|Exmoor and Quantock Oakwoods||Devon|
|Hastings Cliffs to Pett Beach||East Sussex|
|Helbeck and Swindale Woods||Cumbria|
|Humber Estuary||City of Kingston upon Hull|
|East Riding of Yorkshire|
|North East Lincolnshire|
|Kennet Valley Alderwoods||West Berkshire|
|Kirk Deighton||North Yorkshire|
|Lyppard Grange Ponds||Worcestershire|
|Mendip Limestone Grasslands||North Somerset|
|Mobberley and Oversley Ponds||Cheshire|
|City of Peterborough|
|North Downs Woodlands||Kent|
|North York Moors||North Yorkshire|
|Redcar and Cleveland|
|Ox Close||North Yorkshire|
|Paston Great Barn||Norfolk|
|Phoenix United Mine and Crow's Nest||Cornwall|
|Polruan to Polperro||Cornwall|
|Richmond Park||Richmond upon Thames|
|River Derwent||East Riding of Yorkshire|
|River Lambourn||West Berkshire|
|Rixton Clay Pits||Warrington|
|Roman Wall Loughs||Northumberland|
|Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes and Gibraltar Point||Lincolnshire|
|Skipwith Common||North Yorkshire|
|South Pennine Moors||Barnsley|
|St. Austell Clay Pits||Cornwall|
|Subberthwaite, Blawith and Torver Low Commons||Cumbria|
|Tyne and Nent||Cumbria|
|West Dorset Alderwoods||Dorset|
15 Jan 2001 : Column: 22W
15 Jan 2001 : Column: 21W
|Site name||Administrative area|
|Dee Estuary/Aber Afon Dyfrdwy||Cheshire; Fflint/Flintshire; Wirral|
|River Dee and Bala Lake/Afon Dyfrdwy a Llyn Tegid||Cheshire; Ddinbych/ Denbighshire; Fflint/ Flintshire; Gwynedd; Shropshire; Wrecsam/ Wrexham|
|River Tweed||Northumberland; Scottish Borders|
|Severn Estuary/Mor Hafren||Bro Morgannwg/ Vale of Glamorgan; Caerdydd/ Cardiff; Casnewydd/ Newport; City of Bristol; Fynwy/ Monmouthshire; Gloucestershire; North Somerset; Somerset; South Gloucestershire|
15 Jan 2001 : Column: 21W
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